Turkish Silk Road

Turkish Silk Road

This is my second round of the same tour with ViraNatura tours - Turkish Silk Road. A magnificent trip indeed. Makes me feel I can go again and again.

Our route was almost the same like the last year, but this year it was longer, way longer. We have started from Nevşehir and drive all the way to east end of Turkey, reach to the Black Sea, down to the fields of Mesopotamia. Wonderful land, wonderful plants. 

Season was one to two weeks late, on the high lands there were 3 to 5 meters of snow where we were exploring the massive fields of Muscari armeniacum last year. So we didn’t see some of the plants we have seen last year, but of course there are always some precious plants, mostly bulbous plants to explore. 

I was fascinated with the land we drive and the plants we have seen, and I think I will feel the same way each and every time. From start to the end was truly magnificent, but this year Tunceli, Munzur Valley got my heart. I was a child, perhaps 10-12 years old, when I have been in this valley first time with my father, again and always he was after plants, I was after him. I still remember that trip we did my father, and after all those years being there one more time and caught up again with same feelings - pure joy. An amazing valley definitely take you in, and many number of orchid species spotted on the way, including Dacthilorizas, Orchises, Ophryises, Cephelanteras. But the celebrity was definitely Tchihatchewii isatidea, a localized endemic. An incredible step plant! In the same area, we have also seen the beautiful Paeonia mascula which I have painted many years ago. 

This year ‘Turkish Silk Road’ trip was like a flashback for me. Just at the first day of our trip, we headed to the Aksaray, where hopefully we could see the Iris sprengeri, and we did. This beautiful endemic species was flowering with its full glory at the slopes of Hasan Mountain. This was my first time to see this species on its own habitat, and it was priceless. I illustrated I. sprengeri back in 2017 when I saw it growing in Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, NGBB. This illustration was painted and drawn many times to show you the steps to be followed with watercolour, and this will be published on my upcoming book ‘Draw from Life’. Yay! 

You can see the full image of I. sprengeri in my gallery, and if you like to get more information about my latest book project, there are some information to read about :)

Another species spotted on the way was Gundelia tournefortii. It didn’t get enough attention by our  group, because all around plants were quite crazy. But this one got me, as this was the first ever plant I have painted for Curtis’ Botanical Magazine! It is published for Volume 30, Part 2 on July 2013. 

And of course, Iris Iberia subsp. elegantissima. It took me two years to prepare my sketches, and finally completed the paintings in 2018 for publishing in my book. Now again, in this year, we have met again. 

Hard to say which year was better than the other. Many species from last year was not there because the season was late. On the other hand, many more species unlike last year, was showing off all their beauty, simply fantastic. Fritillaria michailovskyi was one of them. We went to exact same location around Kars to see this specimen. In both years we catch the flowering time, but this year blowed my mind. They were everywhere, but everywhere. It was so hard to walk, there were no space without a flower! Imagine a land full of Frits! I simply got wild around those beauties, took many photos, videos. I couldn’t stop myself, many photos were taken on that day!

I felt the same madness when we saw Fritillaria alburyana on Palandoken Mountains. This is one of my favorite Frits (well, a bit hard to choose, they are many, perhaps I don’t actually know which one is my favorite. I also felt like a marathon runner, and run up to the mountain when I had the chance to see the Fritillaria persica! I love them all!), I did again many amazing photos and fantastic videos, played around this beauty, with some other specimen next to it, like Fritillaria caucasica and Iris stenophylla, but perhaps the unluckiest moment had happened and my phone shut to death! Lost all the videos and photos of this day. A sad moment. But in my mind, I still remember, how they were shaking but staying still against the strong wind around!

Another celebrity of the tour was Iris peshmeniana. Ohh man, what a wonderful land it was! Entire area, like about a big hill, was completely covered with this beautiful specimen, growing in groups, whole area was shining in yellow! I think that was a real heaven.

Well, we just did a massive round in Turkey in two weeks, and the number of species we saw was countless. This text wouldn’t end if I try to write about each one of them and my pure joy when I actually meet with these beauties. There were moments also not so indescribable, moments you must be there to feel. One day maybe we can go together : )

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